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Posts Tagged ‘Alan Lomax’

Look and Look Away

February 27, 2015 | by

On Songbook, Alec Soth’s new photobook.

Williston, ND, 2012, black-and-white photograph.

Customers waiting for Walmart to open. Williston, ND, 2012, black-and-white photograph.

If you follow the gaze of every shopper pictured in Alec Soth’s photograph of a crowded Walmart in North Dakota, you end up nowhere. The scene of big-box-store mayhem would have you think it’s Black Friday or Super Bowl Sunday morning or the peak of the shelf-clearing shopping spree that is sure to precede doomsday. But in Williston, the city at the center of the oil boom that has afforded North Dakota the lowest unemployment rate in the country, this was just commerce as usual. It was a national story a few years ago: word spread fast that some incarnation of the American Dream was up for grabs in North Dakota, and scores of men and women from all over the U.S. loaded up the family van and set course for the Peace Garden State. 

With this mind, it can be tempting to read Soth’s photograph—the empty shopping carts, the sweatpants in public, the claustrophobia-inducing crowd—as acutely tragic. The journey to a new and better life ends here? There are consumer traffic jams in the promised land? The streets aren’t paved with gold but with some sort of linoleum-vinyl composite? Read More »

Staff Picks: The Unseen Bestiary, The Avoidance of Love

August 26, 2011 | by

From ‘Monstrorum Historia,’ by Ulisse Aldrovandi, 1642.

Just in time for Borges’s birthday, Lindsey Carr is curating a collaborative art project documenting creatures that have never been seen. The project, The Unseen Bestiary, a sort of DIY Book of Imaginary Beings, is soliciting brief descriptions to accompany Carr’s drawings. —Mackenzie Beer

I’m rereading Stanley Cavell’s great essay on King Lear (and everything else), “The Avoidance of Love,” in preparation for what I’m told is another great essay, by Mark Greif, in the new issue of n+1. (Some lifetime subscription that turned out to be!) —Lorin Stein

I’ve been slowly working through the strikingly lyrical essays in City Dog this summer, so I was excited to see new poems by W. S. di Piero in the fall issue of ZYZZYVA. Something about them reminded me of the end of summer. “Starting Over” perfectly evoked that late-August feeling of everyone coming home: “here you are the nothing / that is the place, / and all the places are you, / none of them yours to keep.”  —Ali Pechman

I just learned everything I know about Batman from intern Cody, who puts the super back in superheroes. —L.S.

Since I realized that Spotify has such a great collection of Alan Lomax recordings, I’ve been totally hooked. —Sadie Stein

Moving books around in my house, I rediscovered my copy of Boulevard Transportation, a collaboration between Rudy Burckhardt and Vincent Katz. The former’s photographs—framing and juxtaposing country and city streets, architectural elements, faces—and the latter’s poetry—casual glances and delighted observations—are perfectly suited to each other. On one spread, Burckhardt’s closeup of reeds waving against sun-dappled water is set opposite this from Katz: “I put bare / feet to Terra / swim in the lake / all day long / there is nothing / to do / listen to wind in the trees.” —Nicole Rudick

I was one of those lame kids without a rock collection, but Léonard Rosenthal, famed 1920s Parisian jeweler and author of The Kingdom of the Pearl, has reformed me. If you aren’t sold on reading about rocks, check out the Edmund Dulac illustrations that originally accompanied the text. —M.B.

I’ve always felt more like a New Yorker than a Californian, but this video is amazing. — A.P.

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